Last week, I found myself on stage at ComedySportz Chicago. As my eyes adjusted to the bright lights and I saw friends in the audience, I thought to myself, “You really need to learn to take the time to read your email and not respond too quickly.”
I received an email a few weeks ago asking if I was up for participating in this improv show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ComedySportz, with me heading up one team and my awesome blogger friend Keely heading up another team.
“Yes, and” is my reflexive response whenever I hear something about improv. That’s what you do, right? (It also may be what you do when you check your emails while on vacation.)
So my response something along the lines of “yes, and tell me what time to be there.”
I’m creative like that.
Which is why, at the start of the show, I was questioning my response. I was also questioning my ability to not completely embarrass myself in front of friends, family, colleagues, and complete strangers. I worry about that on a regular basis, so being on stage for a comedy improv show with no improv experience whatsoever – none, nada, nothing – really upped the ante.
One hour later, my feelings were radically different.
My “yes, and” email suddenly seemed like one of my better responses ever. Not only had my perspective shifted about my approach to email, my perspective on parenting and life in general improved,* thanks to some of these valuable life lessons learned (and re-learned) on stage.
A deep breath can be a huge help
My thoughts about my lack of sufficient email contemplation were quickly followed by fears about my lack of improv skills and dearth of performance experience. I felt panicky.
I took a deep breath.
And I felt a little better.
Another one, and my heart stopped racing quite so fast. Not normal, mind you, but let’s not be picky.
It doesn’t matter
I met Blue Team captain Stacey Smith a few minutes before the start of the show. She’s as hilarious in person as she is on stage, and beautiful, and I’d like to be her when I grow up. Surprisingly, she made the greatest impact on me when she looked me square in the eyes and said, “It doesn’t matter” with a fair amount of seriousness.
It doesn’t matter if you get “out.” Don’t know what to do? It doesn’t matter. Worried about losing? Don’t be! It doesn’t matter! Also, it doesn’t matter if you do something totally silly or even make a complete fool of yourself.
It made me think that I place a lot of importance on and devote an inordinate amount of mental energy to things that don’t matter.
As parents, it feels like all the things matter, all the times. And there are some big things that really do matter, especially in the teen years when you have to teach them how to drive a car without threatening the safety of the general public. Those things really do deserve our attention and angst. The other stuff probably doesn’t.
Stacey telling me it doesn’t matter was huge both for that night and for my view of the bigger picture.
Commit and be all in
At first blush, this appears to be at odds with “it doesn’t matter,” but it turns out that it’s a whole lot easier to give 100% and put yourself out there when it doesn’t matter.
And the folks at ComedySportz know how to commit in ways that will have you rolling on the floor laughing.
Around three-quarters of the way through the night, I realized that I had not seen one person in the audience on their phone. From my fun perch on the stage, I had a great vantage point. My teen in the front row who loves her some social media? Didn’t touch her phone once. When you are all in, it’s so much easier for others to be all in.
There’s something magical when a family is all in on the same thing.
Storytelling is powerful
I’m afraid I had forgotten how very much I love to tell stories until one of the games at the ComedySportz show had me do just that. I told a story about a day in my life and my team reenacted it as a Broadway musical.
I opted for the time that I locked my two-year-old daughter in the car. Why not share my finest Mother of the Year moment?
I got a lot of positive feedback about the story, something I never could have imagined when I was in the moment. Time really is amazing.
It also reminded me that the stories we tell ourselves are powerful. That’s especially true of the stories we tell ourselves about our parenting.
You don’t have to work blue
I confess that I swear a bit in my daily life. It’s not great. But if ComedySportz is family-friendly, and puts a show that engages audiences from ages 8 to 108. If you swear, the ref calls a brown bag foul. The offender wears a brown bag over her head.
They explains that the group “avoids today’s ironic and cynical humor, and is appropriate for everyone, including language, activities, and environment.”
Maybe that’s why they’ve lasted 30 years.
To help celebrate ComedySportz’s 30th anniversary, the team will be performing a special weekend of shows August 17-19, 2017. Tickets to the shows for Thursday August 17 at 8 pm and Saturday August 19 at 6 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm are available via the ComedySports website. A portion of proceeds will benefit Funny Bones, which brings laughter and hope to the families at Ronald McDonald House. For more info visit: http://www.cszchicago.com/30th-anniversary.
If you’re not in Chicago, check out ComedySportz at one of their other 22 locations in the U.S.
*I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you can’t have “improve” without “improv.” Also, I’ve only done improv one time with boatloads of help. However, I’ve clearly completely drunk the KoolAid about the wonders of improv, in case that wasn’t obvious.
Disclaimer: This post wasn’t sponsored and I wasn’t paid to join in the ComedySportz Chicago fun, though my family did get to come see me perform at this superfun event for free!
Prior Post: 3 great animated videos from the D23 Expo 2017
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